Siouxper Drunk

The University of North Dakota is under fire from North Dakota’s Native American leaders for not policing its student’s wardrobes. I, for one, was unaware that public universities had a responsibility to hamper a citizen’s rights, but what do I know, I attended a private school.

A few students, while participating in a non-university event, at a public park, using their Constitution-granted free speech to express their own opinions (albeit asinine, immature and socially unacceptable opinions) decided to showcase their gleaming education with shirts that read, “Siouxper Drunk” during a spring break party. (*Original Article)

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Were these students in the right? Well, legally, yes. They are, technically, within their rights. But, on a moral level, no. It was classless, tactless and inconsiderate. Reminiscent of Britain’s Prince Harry donning a Swastika for a costume.

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The real question becomes whether or not the decision-making processes exhibited by these students is any indication of their environment (ahem, UND) or of their own IQ levels…which still brings us back to UND, if only to question their logic in allowing such flagrant stupidity into their hallowed halls.

Expulsion? Out of the question. But that’s not stopping David Archambault, chairman of the Standing Rock Tribe from demanding it.

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“Zero tolerance,” said Archambault, in a statement to Bakken Today. Zero tolerance for what? Free speech?

I wonder what kind of laws the Standing Rock Tribe prescribes to. Laws forbidding the use of clothing as a form of expression, perhaps? I doubt it, as the Sioux Nation is famous for using their own brand of beadwork and headdresses to speak for themselves on topics from weather, nature and battle to relationships, crops and heritage.

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Clothes as a form of speech, eh? Novel idea. Also, Native American tribes in general, with the Sioux tribes being no exception, are credited with maintaining a third (and sometimes fourth) gender identification for their people: transgender. The Sioux even had a word for it, Badé. These individuals were encouraged to wear clothing that helped identify their bodies with the type of sexuality they would practice. Strange that a community with such a long and glorious history of communication with mere garments would be so deeply offended by a few drunk college kids.

I have to wonder if perhaps the reason the Sioux are so upset is because these revolting T-shirts touched on a topic that the tribes themselves haven’t received enough therapy or recompense for yet. Could the Sioux be pissed at the slight being made at their history of fondness for liquor? Could the Standing Rock Tribe be troubled that their past sacrifices (which were great and many) to obtain alcohol would come back to haunt them in this fashion? Well, I would be, too.

You may think this is just another pathetic attempt at finding enough insult in childish political incorrectness to, possibly, sue for damages and, mostly, garner media attention. We’ve seen this tactic used a lot lately, mostly by Westboro Baptist. But you’d be ignoring the facts behind this offense. The “drunk Indian” stereotype does more damage to the Native Americans around the country than most people care to think about.

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Alcohol-Attributable Mortality Among American Indians and Alaska Natives in the United States, 1999–2009

What’s most embarrassing about this incident is how little light is being shed on what is a huge epidemic for the entire Native American peoples of our nation. Instead of discussing whether or not the students should be expelled, we could take this opportunity to educate an entire university of future leaders on what the bigger problem is and how they can help solve it. Political correctness is afforded to those with minuscule, laughable first world problems. American’s Native tribes don’t fall under that category, with a record of 25% of Native American families living in poverty. Top that off with an astronomically high unemployment rate (69% for the Blackfoot Reservation in Montana): most reservations enjoying a lower employment rate than the whole US during the Great Depression. We should be ashamed to make light of any issue causing so much damage to our own people.

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Native Americans: The Tragedy of Alcoholism

You don’t think these students should be punished or reprimanded or given a course in sensitivity? That’s an interesting stance, considering these students are contributing to the problem, at its core.

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If we look at this in a different light, we’re seeing drunk college kids bullying an entire race of people by designing T-shirts that mock that people’s sacred symbolism. If we look at this in the right light, we can see posters of Jewish caricatures featuring prominent noses, dark greasy hair and dollar signs in place of eyes.

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Let’s call this what it is; racism and bullying. Perhaps these students were too ignorant to truly understand what they were wearing. I guess that’s why they’re going to college, to be educated. Or perhaps these students were malicious in their intent to completely disrespect an entire ethnicity. Considering the purpose of the shirt – to be worn at a spring break party featuring more alcohol than human bodies – I’m going to assume that these kids were just stupid.

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My name is Chelsey Mick, and this is how we educate the youth.